Brief Fact Summary. A Griffin, Georgia, law required anyone wishing to distribute literature within city to first obtain permission for doing so. The Appellant, Alma Lovell (Appellant), distributed a religious pamphlet in Griffin without first obtaining a permit and therefore was convicted.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Liberty of the press is a right that permits one to publish materials without obtaining a license.
Issue. Did the Griffin ordinance requiring permission to distribute literature violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?
Held. Yes. The lower court is reversed.
Chief Justice Charles Hughes (J. Hughes) stated the ordinance prohibits the distribution of materials of any kind, at any time, at any place, in any manner, without a permit from the City. The prohibitions of the ordinance are not limited to ways, which might be regarded as disruptive to the public order, or obscene. Thus, we think that the ordinance is invalid on its face. The right of freedom of the press was directed against the power of the licensor.
It is settled that municipal ordinances adopted under state authority constitute state action and are within the prohibition of the amendment.View Full Point of Law